If you are thinking of starting a family it is a good idea to see a doctor (GP or gynaecologist) before you start trying for a pregnancy. The doctor can check you both out and ensure that your health is as good as it can be before you conceive your baby. This often means changing lifestyle factors such as diet, alcohol consumption, smoking and weight loss. It might also include reviewing any medicines you are on and advising on any changes to help you manage certain conditions you have – such as diabetes, depression, epilepsy, thyroid problems or asthma.
Most couples are able to conceive within 12 months if they are having regular, unprotected sexual intercourse. The chance of conceiving within 12 months is about 80% rising to around 90% by 18 months. Because of this it is usual to wait a while before investigating a couple who do not conceive straightaway where there is no suggestion of other problems. However it might be appropriate to investigate earlier for older women or if either partner has had medical problems.
If a couple finds they are having problems conceiving this may be due to female related issues (in 40-50% of cases), male factors (30-40%) or there may be combined problems.
Many cases of infertility can be helped by simple measures. We encourage both partners to attend for the initial consultation. Detailed medical histories will be taken from both of you and you will both need to be examined. The examination may include vaginal ultrasound scanning. A number of further tests may be discussed with you including:
- Blood hormone levels to check ovarian function and ovulation
- Semen testing
- Ultrasound scanning
- X-ray testing of tubes i.e. hysterosalpingogram
- Laparoscopy to check the pelvis, ovaries and tubes
You will be invited back for a review consultation when the investigations have been carried out and the test results are available.
Your treatment will depend on the cause of the infertility. General measures will include ensuring you both have a healthy diet with the right mix of nutrients and vitamins essential for pregnancy, quitting smoking and alcohol consumption and losing weight. It may also include taking fertility tablets (such as clomiphene), starting treatment for polycystic ovarian syndrome or having surgery.
Sometimes couples need to have further help conceiving through assisted conception and we have excellent working relationships with IVF units in Rockhampton and in the metropolitan area.